EGYPT'S MOST FAMED SNAKE-CHARMER 259
as one would grip a walking-stick? What Westerner can permit himself to be bitten by a newly caught cobra and watch, with a smile, the blood stream down his wounded arm? What Westerner can enter a house and unfailingly track down suiy reptile hitherto undetectable, that may be hidden in some hole, nook or furnishing?
I have watched the Sheikh do all these things, and more, and thus exercise a subtle dominion over the subtlest of creatures. With all our tremendous advance in scientific knowledge we either cannot or dare not attempt to do these things which this Oriental did with insouciant impunity.
I had seen in India a charmer who walked into a village, carrying two small sacks on his shoulder. He showed the villagers that one contained a few rats and the other poison-fanged snakes. He put his hand into the latter sack and took out a pair of the serpents; he let them bite him onkthe arm and throat several times. Then he lifted out a rat and put it on the ground. Bewildered for a moment, it looked around, and in that moment the snakes struck at it and bit it on the head. A minute kter the unfortunate rat lay dead, killed by the venom in the snake's jaws.
The Sheikh's name was the Arabic form of Moses, and it was a curious coincidence that he should bear the cognomen of the great patriarch who astonished a Pharaoh and his court by catching the tail of a snake and turning it into a ro